Kevin McCarthy addresses reporters in March.

Kevin McCarthy addresses reporters in March. Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

With Boehner Leaving, the Republican Leadership Frenzy Begins

Kevin McCarthy is favored to become Speaker but the field isn’t set, and a host of other Republicans are eyeing promotions.

As ru­mors spread through the Cap­it­ol this month that Speak­er John Boehner could be toppled in a con­ser­vat­ive coup, a pic­ture began to ap­pear of a what a post-Boehner lead­er­ship table could look like.

Then on Fri­day morn­ing, Boehner sur­prised even his closest friends by an­noun­cing that he will re­tire Oct. 30, and most of that slate seems to have been wiped clean.

Last week, Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Kev­in Mc­Carthy was be­lieved to have an un­ob­struc­ted path to the gavel. Mc­Carthy, the four-term Cali­for­nia Re­pub­lic­an, has yet to an­nounce his in­ten­tions form­ally, but nearly every Re­pub­lic­an in­ter­viewed said he would as­cend to the top House po­s­i­tion.

“That’s up to the mem­bers,” Boehner told re­port­ers at a Fri­day press con­fer­ence, when asked wheth­er Mc­Carthy take his spot. “Hav­ing said that, I think Kev­in Mc­Carthy would make an ex­cel­lent speak­er.”

But while Mc­Carthy ap­pears to re­main the fa­vor­ite, noth­ing is as­sured. He has already be­gun call­ing mem­bers seek­ing their sup­port for the speak­er­ship. Ways and Means Chair­man Paul Ry­an and House Free­dom Caucus Chair­man Jim Jordan both said they will not run for speak­er, si­phon­ing off some of Mc­Carthy’s com­pet­i­tion, but what Fin­an­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jeb Hensarling will do is an open ques­tion. He has long toyed with the idea of run­ning.

“Chair­man Hensarling is con­sid­er­ing his op­tions, and I ex­pect he will have a de­cision by early next week,” his spokes­wo­man, Sarah Rozi­er, said.

Mean­while, oth­er up­start mem­bers are look­ing to in­ject a fresh face in­to lead­er­ship. Rep. Peter Roskam, Mc­Carthy’s former chief deputy whip, who not­ably bucked lead­er­ship on the Ir­an deal this month, is said to be con­sid­er­ing a run for a lead­er­ship po­s­i­tion, though it is un­clear which one. He said in a state­ment that main­tain­ing the same team would do little to put an end to the in­fight­ing that has marred the con­fer­ence in the past.

The far-right House Free­dom Caucus has been act­ively angling to in­sert one of their own in­to the dis­cus­sion, and are look­ing to vote as a bloc in or­der to cut a deal with whomever they agree to sup­port. They met Fri­day af­ter­noon after Boehner’s an­nounce­ment.

“I wouldn’t be at all sur­prised that some in our caucus would be run­ning,” HFC mem­ber John Flem­ing said. “And the Free­dom Caucus will kind of work to­geth­er to have more weight in the vote.”

Still, oth­ers said the group could set its sights lower, per­haps angling for rules changes.

“I don’t think that the con­ser­vat­ive wing of the party has enough mass to get one of our own to get elec­ted. We cer­tainly have enough mass to in­flu­ence the out­come,” Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, an HFC mem­ber, said.

Fi­nally, a few re­tir­ing mem­bers are said to be con­sid­er­ing a run for the speak­er­ship, if only to hold on to the gavel as a place­hold­er un­til 2017. “You’ve got Can­dice [Miller] and John [Kline] and dif­fer­ent ones that are re­tir­ing,” Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn said.  “So I heard that out there. I’ve heard dif­fer­ent ones run­ning, so we’ll see.”

“A num­ber of mem­bers have ap­proached her on this idea,” a GOP aide fa­mil­i­ar with the dis­cus­sions said of Miller.

The lat­ter idea is borne of the fact that with Boehner resign­ing mid-term, only his lead­er­ship slot is up for grabs. If Mc­Carthy runs and wins, that cre­ates a va­cancy at the Ma­jor­ity Lead­er po­s­i­tion. If not, the rest of the lead­er­ship table could re­main in place, at least un­til the next Con­gress, when lead­er­ship elec­tions would take place across-the-board.

If Mc­Carthy does move up, however, the race for Ma­jor­ity Lead­er could be ex­tremely heated. Both Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scal­ise and Con­fer­ence Chair­wo­man Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers have an eye on the spot, and Budget Com­mit­tee Chair­man Tom Price or Roskam could make an out­side run for the seat as well. Rules Com­mit­tee Chair­man Pete Ses­sions is also a po­ten­tial con­tender, though mem­bers of the Texas del­eg­a­tion, the largest single-state group of House Re­pub­lic­ans, met Fri­day af­ter­noon and some among the group are push­ing Ses­sions to run in­stead for whip.

If Scal­ise wins and va­cates the whip seat, Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry is ready to take his place. Rep. Mark­wayne Mul­lin told mem­bers last week that he would run for the No. 3 post as well.

“We just got the news, we’re still pro­cessing it,” Mul­lin said Fri­day, leav­ing the GOP Con­fer­ence meet­ing. “I think all of us were sur­prised.”

Fur­ther down the lad­der, if Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers cedes her po­s­i­tion as con­fer­ence chair­wo­man, the po­s­i­tion is wide open. Re­pub­lic­an Policy Com­mit­tee Chair­man Luke Mess­er could at­tempt to move up from his nom­in­al lead­er­ship spot, but the rest of the field is a com­plete un­known.

Alex Rogers, Alex Brown and Sarah Mimms contributed to this article.